Thomas J. Archdeacon, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, reviews three books: (1) Remaking the American Mainstream: Assimilation and Contemporary Immigration, by Richard Alba and Victor Nee; (2) America’s Newcomers and the Dynamics of Diversity, by Frank D. Bean and Gillian Stevens; and (3) Immigrants and the American Dream: Remaking the Middle Class, by William A.V. Clark. The books are about the integration, which they argue is largely characterized by assimilation, of immigrant groups that surged in the second half of the twentieth century, particularly in the 1960s.
The first book focuses on assimilation theory, emphasizing how institutional changes reduce social distance separating population groups and enabling formerly disadvantaged people to assimilate. The authors also believe that “at least Asians and light-skinned Hispanics” will be incorporated into the dominant population. The third book focuses on immigrants’ achievements towards the American dream (which the author measures in terms of material well-being, such as, middle class income, home ownership, and naturalization). He concludes that with age, foreign-born Americans’ rates of home ownership and income are comparable to native-born Americans.
The second book is about the impact of immigration on the United States. The authors determine that authorized and unauthorized Mexican laborers are less likely than comparable native-born Americans to utilize welfare programs, and that immigration’s effect on employment and wages of native-born Americans is negligible.